Lifestyle counselling at least once per month can help people with diabetes experience reduced cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke, researchers say.

Those who received counselling were also less likely to experience hospitalisation for chest pain and death from any cause, compared with those who received less frequent lifestyle counselling.

A team from the Brigham and Massachusetts General Hospital carried out a study involving of more than 19,000 people.

The trial was carried out between 2000-2014 and the researchers studied medical records to see how many people with diabetes who had been seen at primary care clinics had received a form of counselling.

They discovered that those who received monthly lifestyle counselling sessions experienced comparatively lower blood glucose levels and had reduced cardiovascular events compared to less who received less counselling. Lower death rates over two years were also reported.

“Our study provides real-life evidence that lifestyle counselling can prevent strokes, heart attacks, disabilities and even death,” said corresponding author Dr Alexander Turchi, an endocrinologist in the Brigham’s Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension.

“The message here for physicians is that it’s important to continue having these conversations with patients about the lifestyle changes they can make to lower their risk and to have patients come back in to continue the conversation until their blood glucose levels are under control.”

People who undergo regular exercise and a healthy diet can significantly improve their health and reduce their risk of heart problems.

“As a physician, it’s encouraging to see that these conversations can change outcomes that matter to our patients,” said Turchin. “We’re not talking about just changing the numbers, we’re talking about preventing strokes, heart attacks, disability and death.”

The findings have been published in the Diabetes Care journal.

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